Pay Attention on Purpose

Posted: February 2, 2014 in Pushing my buttons!, Rocks in my path
Tags: , , , , , ,

Let me start off with a disclaimer. Yes, it’s that kind of post coming. I don’t typically like stereotypes, generalizations, and anything similar to those such as assumptions, etc. With that out of the way, I will say that some things I’ve noticed tend to come from only certain groups of people and while many of my friends of all races, cultures and backgrounds have attributed some of the things I’ll discuss here as more prevalent in one race vs another, one culture vs another and so on, I found that I have just two basic groups – The ignorants and the Relatively Normals. Another disclaimer: I am not normal,  I think normalcy is relative – hence, “relatively normal”, and I don’t strive to be normal. Why? Because relatively normal folks can survive in everyday life at work or play, has a friend or two, isn’t a raging psychopath, serial killer and so on. While that’s great, I want more than that. I want to pay attention to my life on purpose. I want to dive deeper into what makes me, ME and what makes you, YOU. What questions set YOU on fire and make you feel alive? Surely it cannot be, “How do you like this weather?” (unless you’re a weather forecaster) and “Do you know what you’re missing by not eating beef?” (unless you’re a butcher).

So what does that desire have to do with a rant-like post?  Well, it’s hard to live a meaningful life while giving up time and energy to Ignorants. These are folks who may not mean anything weird, offensive, etc. but cannot, for the life of them, seem to stop asking, assuming, doing, saying, or acting like ignorant fools in some way. Some are self-centered and while many of us are to some extent, as it is human nature to survive and thrive, I’d like to think that we can turn self-centeredness off at times to truly care about others, be empathetic, or hell, read someone’s body language to know when they’re uncomfortable or about to slap you. I don’t think that most relatively normal people want to receive a verbal or physical beatdown but can’t seem to stop themselves from wandering right into one despite all the warning signs. Maybe narcissism and lack of education on body language play into this. In my observations and personal experiences with Ignorants, I’ve found it interesting that before and after statements that jeopardize the safety of their noses and eyes, some of these folks spoke highly of themselves in terms of emotional intelligence, world travels, and even claim to be religious. So why can’t they stop making crazy comments, or at least learn when to be quiet? Maybe they just don’t know…? If that’s the case, maybe this post will help.

Exhibited (repeated) traits or actions of ignorant fools, all in my opinion, of course:

  • Asking someone you’ve just met a LOT of personal questions. This action tends to apply to coworkers, dinner parties or social gatherings with people we don’t know, etc. Look, there’s one thing to try and make small talk, which I deplore but tolerate because it’s the polite thing to do in some settings, but don’t open an inquisition on my life. I will give you one freebie for small talk but if that nonsense or nosiness continues, I will walk away – sometimes politely, sometimes not. So how should you know the difference? Glad you asked. An example of tolerable small talk may include, “Crazy weather we’re having, isn’t it?”. However, my preference would be, “I love writing. What’s something you really enjoy doing?”. This way, I get to the heart of the person, what makes them tick, and I would actually care about the answer. I may even want to learn more about the person and his/her hobbies.
    I read in a couple of books that are instructional materials on how to deal with (medically treat*, interview, social skills, etc.) people of difference races and backgrounds, that white people may see questions as an acceptable way of getting to know someone. Says some may see nothing wrong with a personal line of questioning such as “Where do you live?”, or “Where do you work?”, etc. while some minorities (think the book specified African Americans in this section), may see the questions as intrusive and rude. I would honestly say that I don’t think it’s just a race issue. This line of questioning should just be avoided altogether when you don’t know someone or unless the setting is right to ask, as in you’re talking to a Realtor or asking for a recommendation on a place to move.What I drive, where I work, where I live are all just small aspects of my life. These tangible items do not make me who I am as a person, nor do they make me more or less interesting, or even a good conversationalist. If you are the one to ask these questions of someone you’ve just met, what’s the reason? Please share them with me so that I may gain some more perspective into this line of interrogation, which is how I feel I’m being treated when I’m asked these types of questions as soon as we meet. I really do hope it’s deeper than just being nosy but like I said, I don’t think that’s the case – I think that many of us are never taught how to truly interact with others in a meaningful way so we may treat every new social interaction like we would a work conference, or something equally dry and thus, we all sound like salesmen and consultants on the road when seated across from that stranger at the dinner table.

    *NClex Preparatory materials – NCSBN

  • Don’t question what I eat, how much I eat, or make statements on anything related to my food choices unless we’re very close friends. Even then, some of my friends have been told to stop commenting on my food, types of meals, etc. because I absolutely refuse to defend my choices and what I put into my own damn mouth. Why? It seems that many of us like to judge. If it’s your thing, do yourself a favor and don’t voice your judgment to me. Why? I may verbally slap you with my opinions on why you should not judge, condemn, or scoff at someone else’s choices. I care about my health and the health of those around me – especially my loved ones with food allergies so yes, I may make suggestions to help them get better nourishment or avoid allergic reactions. But I will never scoff or judge your or a random person’s meals. We’re all adults and I assume most of us pay for our own food so unless you’re paying for my food or directly involved with cooking my meals, NEVER give me grief about my food. If you think I’m “one of those people who have to eat like that” (yes, a direct quote) with regard to meat, or have ridiculous practices such as my designated days of the week to eat only vegan items, etc., under NO circumstance should you ask about, or comment on your thoughts.To be absolutely safe, also NEVER comment on my portion size, or servings unless you’re my doctor and I’m being unhealthy. Why? Because food is a personal choice and some of us have different expectations, purposes for what and how much we eat, and some have a very personal relationship with food choices (those who do not eat meat, etc.). If you really want to know about someone’s food choices or meals, ask politely and leave your judgment at the door. This is a topic that many are open or proud to discuss but not when they feel they’re being judged. An example of a good way to ask about food would be, “Hey that smells great! What is it that you’re about to enjoy?” Are you still wondering why you can’t say things like, “Wow, you’re eating again? Didn’t you just have something an hour ago?” or, “You don’t know what you’re missing by not eating beef.”? If so, start re-reading this paragraph.

I have several more observations that I’d love to share but instead of scaring you off with all of them in one post, I’ll let my thoughts breathe. Then depending on the number of readers interested, or depending on whether there are others who feel the same way I do, I may share or even create a new category for all of us to vent and in so doing, educate those around us. Who knows, maybe this venting and knowledge sharing will educate me on things I’m doing that annoy others. I know I’m constantly learning about life – other people’s as well as my own – and I’m not perfect. So what are your thoughts on these topics? Just a reminder that I am still open to questions and thoughts via emails for those shy bugs who always prefer to email me and not put their thoughts out into the blogosphere as I am to them on social media (twitter, FB, etc.).

  1. amediablogger says:

    I don’t like the “where are you from, you don’t look English question” it usually leads to me saying my ethnicity and then a bunch of ignorant bastards telling me all about my “homeland” plus I get pigeon holed. Also the “what do you do for a living” that irritates me like crazy. Who cares what I do. I get really angry because I feel I’m being judged and put into a “class and education braket”. I don’t mind the food question because I love food and i love cooking, it’s a subject that’s close to my heart. I never judge people’s food/dietary preferences that’s none of my business. If I ask a food question it’s usually “do you have a good recipe for….?”

    The question I really hate is which area do you live in? Where were you born? What did you study?
    The questions I love to ask people usually link together so I get an idea of their thought process. They seem random to the person I’m asking and probably quite insignificant but to me I learn a lot.
    In terms of small talk I find it a waste of time and I don’t ask questions or say much at all to those that I don’t know. My favorite reply is that’s not any of your business. Or alternatively, why do you ask?

    • I agree, amediablogger!  It’s always “fun” when someone wants to tell you about your homeland but unfortunately at times, in the forms of the worst stereotypes. I don’t think it’s with a mean intent all the time. Maybe no one told them they’re being stereotypical and condescending or insulting…or so I’d like to think.  I’m originally from an island and I can’t begin to list all of the backwards, crazy statements made to me as if they are facts. I try to remedy some of the thinking but too often it makes it worse.

      To the statement of, “you don’t look english”, have you ever asked where they think you look like you’re from? I made that mistake several times so now I don’t ask….

      The food question of, “Do you have a good recipe for…” seems decent enough I’d think. Or I wonder if I ask a colleague of Indian descent for a good curry recipe if that would be insulting unless of course, he/she is having curry that smells amazing for lunch. Hmmm…See even I have to now stop and consider. 

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and making me feel less crazy about wanting to connect on a deeper level with others! 


      • amediablogger says:

        Hey Natasha, I don’t think you’re crazy to want to connect with people on a deeper level. I’m not interested in everyone I meet and I can be superficial when needed those are the times I talk a whole lot of nonsense like the weather, poor transportation, mundane and none specific.

        The ethnicity question I’ve asked where people think I’m from and I often get told Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece or S.America never Lebanon which is where I’m actually from. Then the stereotypes come at me, the terrorism, what do I think of Hezbollah? Have I even fired an AK47 or whatever it’s called? I won’t bore you. Then I get told “why don’t your people do this or behave like that”. Then I get told things about my country that I never heard about. I’ve become furious at times because not just is it rude but it’s damn right racist and I think that’s not so much ignorance at times but direct racism.

        I don’t think asking someone Indian for a curry recipe is a bad question but perhaps it could be approached directly but indirectly as in “I love Indian food what are your favourite indian dishes? Of course I only know the British versions of indian food how does authentic Indian food differ? Then i can go in for the question. This way i learn a bit about the person I’m talking too and may discover that our food tastes are really quite different. It’s just a thought.

        Great post by the way.


      • Hi Maria!

        Thank you for responding and for the compliment. I feel that if I meet at least one good person or have at least one stimulating conversation via social media a month, I’m doing something right. 🙂

        Once again I agree, sometimes there’s no desire to connect with others on a deeper level and I gladly let those go. I am fortunate to be able to see or feel the weather for myself or if a train is late, there’s nothing I can do about it but wait, so there’s only so much material to go on about with those topics.

        That’s crazy – to ask you about Hezbollah or firing a gun, etc. when it’s all based on an assumption! Even if you are from one of those places, that’s not all there is to life there, but then again maybe it’s all they’ve been exposed to through the media (Ah, the media’s slant…another thought for another day). I’m sorry to hear that’s happened to you and certainly empathize with the anger and pain as I’ve had similar experiences with the race guesses that are usually followed by asinine statements and assumptions. On a side note, my “favorite” question is, “What are you?” (not, “where are you from?”) to which I always respond, “Human”.

        Good point about the recipe question – I believe it’s all in the way it’s done, the approach and the fact that you started it with, “I love Indian food…”. It’s all about respect for each other as humans.

        Thanks again for sharing, I look forward to more of your thoughts here or on your blog!


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